GOP lawmaker says 'ICE has an excellent record' — after admitting that two kids just died in its custody

GOP lawmaker says 'ICE has an excellent record' — after admitting that two kids just died in its custody
Image credit: Fox News

This has been a horrible month for migrant children.

On December 8, 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl, Jakelin Caal, died of exhaustion and dehydration at an El Paso hospital hours after she and her father were detained by the Border Patrol. Then, on Christmas Eve, 8-year-old Alonzo Gomez, also a Guatemalan migrant, died suffering from cough and fever at a New Mexico hospital while in custody.

But to hear it from Rep. Peter King (R-NY), it's no big deal because two dead kids aren't a lot.

"Obviously those deaths are tragic, certainly any time kids die it's terrible," said King on Fox News, while insisting ICE agents followed protocol. "Listen, I know in housing projects in New York City, kids dying. Unfortunately, people living in these conditions, that can happen."

"I mean, [ICE] had hundreds of thousands of people that they've had custody of over the years, and I think these are the only two children that have died, certainly in recent memory. So considering all of that, certainly what happens in housing projects across the country, I think ICE has an excellent record."

Watch below:

Leaving aside the absurdity of comparing gang violence in housing projects to the treatment of children in custody of federal agents, King is correct that these are the first recorded deaths of children in immigration custody in at least a decade. But that does not tell the whole story, because migrant children have suffered well-documented abuse at the hands of immigration agents for years. The ACLU recently laid out a horrific report showing systemic physical and sexual abuse of migrant children held by Customs and Border Protection. Nor are children the only victims — an autopsy suggests that Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman who died in ICE custody in May while seeking asylum from Honduras, was beaten after being detained.

So while the deaths of these two children are certainly rare, and there is no direct evidence of foul play by U.S. agents, these incidents are occurring in a culture of callousness and disregard for the basic rights of migrants. The deaths deserve serious scrutiny — but Republicans like King would rather just brush it aside.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.